* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

When tyrants pull on their jackboots to stamp out free speech online, they reach for... er, a Canadian software biz?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Slippery slope

Do we condemn suppliers to Blighty's own Great Firewall?

How about suppliers of open source software, that explicitly doesn't distinguish good from bad users?

It's not such a great leap from there to attacking, say, encryption software and its developers.

ISO blocks NSA's latest IoT encryption systems amid murky tales of backdoors and bullying

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: The phantom downvoter strikes again?

Interesting. Of course, the phantom downvoter *could* be you, making a story for yourself. Have a downvote, in support of your thesis, and for posting anonymously.

"Except one" in your post is meaningless: it could just be, for example, a post made after the "downvoter" had been and gone.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Very helpful NSA

We already have the Kaspersky story. Now this: having DJB in the cast inspires confidence.

But one day it'll be a double-bluff, they'll attack their own top spy to inspire trust. C.f. Mundt.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: The ciphers look as if they will remain in the Linux kernel

I'd be interested to see Daniel Bernstein's opinion.

DJB offers us a cautionary tale.

July 2008: big headlines in all the mainstream media (I heard it on BBC radio headlines): Internet address system is horribly broken and dangerous. CERT have it here.

... yet ...

July 2001: DJB points out the same thing.

Seven years, no-one listened. Except those of us who already believed DJB, and used djbdns for our own servers.

Blighty stuffs itself in Galileo airlock and dares Europe to pull the lever

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: What planet are you on?

A few determined people, through a mix of fair means and foul, finally persuade their countrymen to vote to leave.

Whose countrymen? It's more the revenge of the Colonials: Rupert Murdoch and Conrad Black, poisoning the Great British Public Consciousness since the 1980s.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: EU friends apparantly @ ArrZarr

Who needs satellites?

Once upon a time, before we had GPS, I worked briefly for a company developing and deploying a navigation/tracking system. Using not satellites, but land-based beacons, sending out the signals from which to compute a position. We would even track a live position and display it on digital maps, sourced (from memory) from Bartholomews in those pre-google-maps days.

I left that job in 1989. Sometime after that, they switched to GPS, thus dispensing with the expense of custom positioning infrastructure. But since money is now magic, we can just resurrect that 1980s infrastructure.

Then build our own mobile 'phones featuring the Great British Positioning System on a raspberry pi. Snub Apple, Samsung, and all those Chinese!

Oh dear... Netizens think 'private' browsing really means totally private

Nick Kew Silver badge

What's correct is obvious enough on a moment's reflection. This is a tech-savvy community!

Perhaps more a case of reporting a survey that took unsuspecting users, sprung questions they'd never considered on them, and got answers that, on a moment's reflection, the user might want to reconsider.

Revenge pornography ban tramples free speech, law tossed out – where else but Texas!

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Interesting Precedent

That's not my reading of the story.

They seem to be saying that this law is unconstitutional. Not that there would be any problem with a better-drafted law against revenge porn, or any of the other things you mention.

Nick Kew Silver badge

@Dodgy Geezer

Your belief falls straight into the totalitarian's trap.

Holocaust denial, like many other cries of "foul", is a whole lot more subtle than that. You posit an absurdity, but the people being tarred by the brush are much more likely to be historians questioning not the event of the Holocaust, but particular details or stories from it.

And of course a big grey area between legitimate historical research (and shutting it down) and the strawman of outright denial.

Massive cyber attack targets mid-Atlantic nation 'Berylia'

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Re: In short then-

Exploring ideas for the next set of accusations against Russia, China, or other prospective Bogeyman?

UK consumer help bloke Martin Lewis is suing Facebook over fake ads

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Re: I hope he takes them to the cleaners

There's an arguable case over whether they're complicit on the fraud.

But that's not what Lewis is saying. He's concerned about his own good name, and rightly so - having built up a sizeable business based on a reputation as trusted expert commenter.

The case he is making - that FB are complicit in the theft of his good name - seems to me a lot more clear-cut than saying they're complicit in the underlying fraud.

Indeed, whereas libel laws most usually seem to be abused by rich folk over relative trivia, this case seems strong and sensible. If there was ever a case against abolishing (or at least watering down) Blighty's draconian libel laws, this is surely it!

Nick Kew Silver badge


buying clothes for the aforementioned boyfriend (are men not capable of buying their own clothes),

I might just be able to shed light on that one.

I buy my own clothes just fine. But some women have a different dress sense to mine, and feel much more strongly about it than I do. I suspect many are channeling behaviour learned from mothers, grannies, and aunts who buy clothes for junior family members.

I once had such a woman as girlfriend: she'd be prime target for such ads. Indeed, clothes were only a small part of the control she asserted over my life. The word we'd customarily use is "henpecked", but when the Chattering Classes started banging on about "Coercive Control" it described that relationship with uncanny accuracy.

It's not you, it's Big G: Sneaky spammers slip strangers spoofed spam, swamp Gmail sent files

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Once again, Google pissing all over RFC standards

Glad someone else remembers Dejanews and laments its fate.

But the day you lament doesn't figure in my recollection. It happened incrementally in small stages: a boiling frog story. Thus at no point did the community stand up and say "we can't lose this, let's create a new one".

Google Groups was a land grab: Enclosure of the Commons. Now Facebook owns more of that space, and the Commons are something a few irrelevant old-timers like you and me lament.

Tech bribes: What's the WORST one you've ever been offered?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Peter, is that illegal now?

I guess that means they must've done away with that most corrupt of kickbacks, airmiles and frequent flyer programmes, that involve personal kickbacks for spending company money.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: First of all, I don't accept bribes. Ever. Personal policy.

Jake, are you the hero of a comic opera?

Or even just a limerick. One lurking in a distant memory:

There was a young fellow from Johns,

who attempted to fondle the swans,

Whereupon said the porter,

Sir, pray, take my daughter!

The swans are reserved for the dons.

(St Johns College famously being the only people in Blighty other than Her Majesty with license to eat swans. I dined there as guest once or twice in my student days, but never on the big birds).

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: T-shirt

Among my collection of conference-freebies is a TripAdvisor T-shirt.

One to wear when checking into a hotel for the next conference!

EU under pressure to slap non-compliance notice on Google over pay-to-play 'remedy'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Blocking Comparison Web Sites And Foundem

Kelkoo still alive? Wow, my blocking of their annoying crap must've been entirely successful over [mumble] years. Something works!

The others you mention don't even ring a bell. Except sue, grabit and foundem: evidently the nastiest of all!

ID theft in UK hits record high as crooks shift to more vulnerable targets

Nick Kew Silver badge

There are documented cases where it *did* work against TFA.

Fraudster walks in to victim's mobile 'phone supplier, claims to be victim, blags a SIM card with the number used for TFA, gets the code. Job done. And variants on the theme.

AIUI, this became such a problem that one bank was persuaded by consumer groups to abandon TFA.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Some companies go out of their way to help phishers. See for example here where someone tries to verify a 'phone number.

Oracle demands dev tear down iOS app that has 'JavaScript' in its name

Nick Kew Silver badge

Could it be that this is a red herring? Apple taking down a dodgy app (perhaps after complaints) and asserting the TM thing as an excuse? Or even the purveyor of the dodgy app inventing the whole excuse?

Just a thought. It would explain why JavaScript is just fine in other places[1]. If I google, apple's app store tops the results, but their page wants me to open it in itunes (sod that) and I don't see any review pages.

[1] That is, the word is just fine. The script itself - well, the less said, the better.

Guess who's still most moaned about UK ISP... Rhymes with BorkBork

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: "31 complaints per 100,000 customers"

I'd take a reliable 6Mb/s over a notionally-superfast-but-dysfunctional service any day.

I'd even take an unreliable 6Mb/s over Virgin cable, provided only I could contact the provider and get things fixed when it goes wrong. As in the difference between this story of BT (copper) failure vs this story or this story of Virgin failure.

You're a govt official. You accidentally slap personal info on the web. Quick, blame a kid!

Nick Kew Silver badge

Unauthorised access

Looks like he did something unauthorised, in the same sense I'm about to when I walk out of my front door to go to Sainsburys. No-one has authorised me to walk the scenic route there, nor the straight route back with a laden backpack. It's just something we do without question.

ZTE now stands for 'zero tech exports' – US govt slaps 7-year ban on biz

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: I wonder how this affects me...

I expect you're running much the same risks as I am with a Motorola. Or others with the rest of the Usual Suspects.

Except, if you're at risk of being snooped on by spooks, they'll be foreign spooks. With no interest in what you're doing, and a very high hurdle to coming after you in the unlikely event that they do find connections between you and suspected terrorists, child-molestors, or general dissidents.

Google to add extra Gmail security … by building a walled garden

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Embrace and Extend

Back in the '90s, the previously-dominant players (like Compuserve and AOL) had to move away from walled gardens to survive, and Microsoft abandoned its walled-garden plan in favour of a 'net presence with soft-walls ("embrace-and-extend"). MS's captive market crumbled over time leaving them to compete on more-or-less equal terms.

What has google learned from history that has led them to an embrace-and-extend plan?

What a time to be alive: LG and Italian furniture-maker build smart sofa

Nick Kew Silver badge

Anyone else remember a Dave Allen sketch involving a voice-activated smart home?

He's suitably impressed of course. After a few sample commands (lights on, door close sorta thing) during which he sits on the sofa, he exclaims "well, bugger me". Whoops!

Total WIPOut: IT chief finds his own job advertised

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Re: "staff are meant to be protected against retaliation for cooperating"

@Gordon Pryra - the ideal whistleblower is someone with no stake in the job continuing. Someone looking to make a new career, or someone on the brink of retirement (and whose pension is safe).

My favourite whistleblower has to be the former spy known as John le Carré, whose subsequent career proved very successful for him and enriched the world in general. Never even revealed specifics, just blew a whistle on the culture of the spooks and their masters. And he's never stopped blowing that whistle!

Fear the Reaper: Man hospitalised after eating red hot chilli pepper

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Re: To be honest

@Grunty - Agree, birdseyes are a bit bitter. A decade or so ago they were the only generally-available hot chillies, and I used them a lot. Then came the bonnets and habaneros to a shop near me, and the sweeter flavour of my curries, soups and stirfries was a revelation - though a half a bonnet could substitute for half a dozen birdseyes in terms of heat (sadly not true of the much more bland scotch bonnets which are all I can get now).

You do get desensitised. So an upper limit beyond which things become pure machismo is entirely subjective.

Icon for dragonsbreath. Chewing a habanero raw would be pure machismo for me, though I've chewed birdseyes for medicinal purposes (when I had a concert to sing and a nasty cold).

Great Western Railway warns of great Western password reuse: Brits told to reset logins

Nick Kew Silver badge


Prompted by this story, I've just realised I must be one of the vast number of users whose passwords just got reset (albeit against my will and better judgement).

Well, I for one won't be resetting my password. Sodthat.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: They should at least stick to one domain name

I expect that'll be down to their half-baked rebranding exercise.

And of course, nowadays whois is no longer much help. Though firstgreatwestern.co.uk still has an oldfahioned entry naming the registrant as FirstGroup PLC and dating back to 1998 (a much longer lifetime than one might expect of an imposter).

Nick Kew Silver badge

Get rid of passwords - yes.

x509 Client Certs: problematic. You need to map certs to people, not to browsers, systems, installations. Even if you introduce technology that works like that, you're up against a legacy of certs deployed with entirely different policies.

Not insurmountable, but not straightforward either. I'd use PGP in preference, on the grounds that it's always been associated with people, and has 25 years worth of WoT infrastructure.

El Reg needs you – to help build an automated beer-transporting robot

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Reinventing the wheel

Why are you looking to reinvent a 100-year-old wheel?

You need look no further than the inventions of William Heath Robinson.

They're back! 'Feds only' encryption backdoors prepped in US by Dems

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Criminal Defence

In the case of those accused of terrorist-related offences, troublesome lawyers won't be troubled in the first place. Just kill them, or ship them to Guantanamo Gulag.

Gmail is secure. Netflix is secure. Together they're a phishing threat

Nick Kew Silver badge

Deja Vu

I'm sure I've seen this issue reported before. Right here on El Reg.

More broadly, it's an instance of a whole class of issues arising through different agents interpreting standards in different ways[1]. In some cases the standards themselves are at fault: when the HTTP standards RFC723x came out, they gave rise to some security reports to BOTH the major web proxies I'm involved with, changing SHOULD in RFC2616 (and earlier HTTP standards) to MUST NOT.

[1] Or in the case of Microsoft's products that kicked off the whole email-virus thing twenty years ago, deliberately violating a security-critical standard and opening the gates to attacks described in some detail in the informational security discussion in RFC1341 (1992).

Lib Dems, UKIP's websites go TITSUP* on UK local election launch day

Nick Kew Silver badge

Need? That's not a need, it's a niche. If your objective is to find customers who'll pay for a service, then you market yourself to whoever is likely to buy. As for Wordpress: do we know whether NationBuilder is anything more than wordpress (or other mature open-source system) under the hood? In this day and age, how many wheels should they reinvent?

I first released software to power interactive parts of a website back in December 1995. Sometime in 1996, a search revealed my first declared user. It was the BNP. Not what I'd have chosen, but the software was GPL so they had every right to use it.

Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte creating app to register 3m EU nationals living in Brexit Britain

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Re: Cheaper Option:

Going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're taking the piss

Indeed, I read it as tongue-in-cheek.

There's another AC below for the real downvotes.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Seems they've overlooked a supplier with experience of large scale categorization and tagging

or is IBM sitting this one out...

It's Being Mended.

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: confused

1) Started building an app without the policy it needs to reflect...

Where've you been this past nearly-two years? It's the new normal now.

Just look at the Northern Ireland border: technology will provide a solution, no political agreement required.

And it seems the EU now agree: they've joined wholeheartedly in the Russian spat designed to distract attention while the "transition" agreement was put through.

Police chief wants citizens to bring 'net oligarchs to heel

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Not really dispelling the idea that generally the police are a little dim ..

@JimmyPage - nicely put. With or without the extra dig at Southern Rail.

I saw the article headline and thought for a glorious moment I was being encouraged by the region's chief cop to go after Virgin Media. But no such thing: just another bit of irrelevant nonsense.

Twitter whacks 270,000 terror accounts, majority flagged by internal tools

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The real bot army

Surely what would really redeem twitter is to take down the 'bot army that powers the Inquisition in cases like this.

£12k fine slapped on Postman Pat and his 300,000 spam emails

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Re: Their reply was that they are required by law to deliver the spam

@Andy: Why are Royal Mail so incompetent nowadays?

'twas ever so. Try living somewhere with a similar name to a town big enough for the posties to have heard of it. Back in the 1970s my family lived in a place called Horam, and most of our (correctly addressed and postcoded) mail arrived redirected from Horsham.

@10forcash: Not true, they are required by law to deliver addressed mail

Hmmm, now that you mention it, that figures. I think I may have been particularly concerned with vast volumes of mail addressed to a previous occupant of my address, who appeared to have been running some kind of postal business from home.

Nick Kew Silver badge

I've tried to take that up with the post office.

Their reply was that they are required by law to deliver the spam. Failure to do so would be a criminal offence: something along the lines of tampering with the mail.

I gave up.

O2 wolfs down entire 4G spectrum as pals fiddle with their shiny 5G band

Nick Kew Silver badge

Cheap at the price

Compared to the 3g auctions, these sums look pretty modest.

So I guess the telcos won't have losses to offset several years of tax out of this. Though the one domiciled in the UK (and therefore most visible) will no doubt continue to attract protestors.

Britain's 4G is slower than Armenia's

Nick Kew Silver badge


BT and Virgin have monopolies on their respective turf.

The mobile providers don't. Which is no doubt why they compete, and provide a much better service than the monopolies.

Similarly, the regulatory scrutiny on BT will no doubt be why they are nowhere near as bad as Virgin, despite still being worse than the mobile telcos.

Nick Kew Silver badge

From experience

My connection from home/office these days is 4G.

It's a comparable download speed to Virgin cable, and much faster upload. And that's when Virgin is working, which it hasn't for some time: the 4G is a lot more reliable.

I posted a comparison back when I first had both connections.

Shhh! Don’t tell KillBots the UN’s about to debate which ones to ban

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Cynical? Moi?

Let's hear more voices raised against May and the Tories helping to kill children in the Yemen.

The UK, as the world's second-largest arms exporter (and with an economy proportionally *more* reliant on it that the US at #1) will be sure to veto anything that damages vital national (economic) interests. Governments of both colours have mongered war after war since the end of the Cold War threatened our vital industries, and with brexit we're looking to double down on it.

*Thunk* No worries, the UPS should spin up. Oh cool, it's in bypass mode

Nick Kew Silver badge

Is it Friday already?

... Or has El Reg expanded its entertaining anecdotes beyond Friday (and the new Monday slot) to all-week?

Brain monitor had remote code execution and DoS flaw

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Re: It definitely takes

Um, the article talks of the threat as stealing information.

A threat against someone's vital life-support make a serious (and plausible) story, but it's not actually *this story*.

Danish Navy expert finds no trace of exhaust gas in private submarine

Nick Kew Silver badge

So an ideal candidate for the UK government.

It seems the Danes, unlike the Brits, believe in real evidence when they publicly accuse someone of murder.

Commonwealth Games brochure declares that England is now in Africa

Nick Kew Silver badge

The Gold Coast

Am I the only one to have had an atlas old enough to show a country called the Gold Coast, before it was renamed Ghana? Also in West Africa.

[mumble] brexit, brafric,

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